Native to Australia, Quokkas are small and adorable little creatures who are known for being extremely friendly, sometimes too friendly!
They are attractive and inquisitive creatures who have beautifully adapted to harsh and unpredictable Australian environments.
As a result, they have made their home in scrublands and swamps, tunneling through the bush for protection during daylight hours,
then emerging at night to eat roots, leaves, seeds, and grasses.
So, what is it about the quokka that makes them irresistibly cute? Well, in this article we will be exploring everything you need to know about the animal and what makes them so friendly.
What Is A Quokka?
The quokka, otherwise known as the short-tailed scrub wallaby, is a small macropod roughly the size of a domestic cat, with short-rounded ears, round faces, and small tails.
However, the most notable feature of the quokka is its face.
All quokkas seem to be incessantly smiling which awarded them the moniker of ‘happiest animal on the planet’.
In the 17th century, they were originally discovered by Dutch explorers who mistook them for large rats, and, as a result, named their native island “Rotte nest” (“rat’s nest” when translated).
Where Do They Live?
As previously stated, quokkas are very social creatures. In fact, they like to live in groups of up to five other quokkas.
Although they are monogamous, this means that they only mate with one partner for the rest of their lives.
Since quokkas are primarily herbivores, they like to snack on herbs and grasses, which are easily digested with the help of a unique stomach within their small intestine.
In fact, they are thought to be the only macropod species with this characteristic.
Moreover, quokkas are the only members of their family to have a pouch where they carry their young.
The pouch is lined with soft fur to help keep their young safe and warm.
Since quokkas have small feet, they are able to journey through the thickest of bushland – making it the ideal habitat to keep them safe from predators.
Likewise, they have a fluffy and soft coat of fur which helps them during the winter months to keep warm.
Quokkas can be found in Australia; however, even if you’re a native, you’re unlikely to spot one in your backyard.
They are native to southwestern Australia (off the coast of Perth), with the largest population found on Rottnest Island.
Why Are They So Friendly?
Quokkas can come across as extra friendly due to a beaming smile constantly plastered on their faces.
You may have already seen pictures of quokkas across social media with a cheesy grin being the star of the show.
However, this smiling is actually an evolutionary characteristic that helps them to pant and cool off – a massive benefit to these furry residents who are bathed in island sunshine 12 months a year.
Can You Keep a Quokka as a Pet?
Wild quokkas populations are facing a decline due to invasive species such as cats and foxes moving into their territory.
Thus, quokkas need to be kept in the wild, you can have one as a pet.
You shouldn’t try to snuggle or smuggle them, either. On Rottnest Island, anyone who tries to touch quokkas will be slapped with a hefty $300 fine by local authorities.
Whether this fine is to protect the quokkas themselves or their human-scratching posts, it is unclear.
Can You Feed Quokkas?
Much like you are not allowed to touch a quokka, you should never feed a quokka, either.
While it may be difficult to resist the urge to flick them a piece of bread or a crumb of a cracker from your picnic,
‘human’ foods can actually have a determining impact on their digestive systems, and sometimes malnourished these little guys.
On top of that, you’ll likely be fined by local authorities with fines as high as $50,000 and a five-year prison sentence depending on animal cruelty penalties.
How Many Quokkas are Left in the World?
In the world, there are only approximately 20,000 quokkas left in the wild.
In fact, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, they are listed as vulnerable to extinction.
There are a number of reasons for their decline in population, the main factors include degradation and loss of habitat and predation by feral cats and foxes.
Another worrying factor is climate change.
As the southwest starts to dry up as a result of climate change, there will be a major loss in habitat for quokkas.
Quokkas Are At Risk of Extinction
Unfortunately, according to the Internal Union for Conservation of Nature, quokkas are considered vulnerable to becoming extinct.
According to a 2014 study conducted by John Woinarski (Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO),
the species has lost 50% of its habits in the past 200 years alone on mainland Australia.
Without human intervention, the adorable creatures face an uncertain future.
Quokkas are known to be extremely friendly animals, and their cheeky grins make them selfie professionals.
Native to Australia, they are sometimes mistaken for kangaroos, when, in fact, they are a part of the wallaby family.
Essentially, they are much smaller in size with round faces, small bodies, and little ears on the top of their head.
Quokkas have been dubbed as the world’s happiest animal; however, with the rise in climate change, these adorable creatures are on the brink of extinction.
As the water begins to dry up, so do their precious habitats, making them susceptible to prey such as feral cats and foxes.
Unfortunately, unless humans intervene and take action, these bundles of joy face an uncertain future.
Hopefully, this guide has informed you on everything you need to know about quokkas and answered the most important question: are quokkas friendly? Well, now you know!